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Pepperdine Law Review

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zoning, density, deregulation, carbon emissions, climate change


Environmental Law | Land Use Law | Law


According to its many critics, zoning bears significant responsi- bility for the housing crisis in America andfor promoting unsustain- able development patterns. Reformers argue that zoning reduces the supply of new housing and therefore drives up prices in thriving communities. Zoning also increases carbon emissions by restricting density in the urban core and promoting carbon-intensive, land- consuming, automobile-dependent sprawl in single-family suburbs. A growing chorus calls for relaxing zoning limits in order to pro- mote growth in the urban core as a response to the twin crises of housing costs and climate change. Relaxing zoning limits will al- most certainly promote growth but may not promote density. Some of the most loosely zoned cities in America are also the least dense. This symposium contribution examines the relationship between density and zoning intensity and finds that density is loosely corre- lated with more intensive zoning, not less. This is not a causal claim but nevertheless raises questions whether zoning deregulation will necessarily produce both growth and density.



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